Calif. Man Sails into Third Decade of Backyard Boat Building

A California man began building a large boat in his backyard in 1977 - and after 36 years of hardship it's nearly finished.

Dillon Griffith, an 82-year-old retired contractor, said the boat is the only one of its kind because it has a keel like a sail boat to navigate rough waters.

"I'm Portuguese and the Portuguese like the sea, they like to fish," Griffith said. "I had a smaller one before, a 42-foot, and the galley was so small that I couldn't make any money. I broke even every time I charted it. So I had an idea to build a boat. I called a ship builder and told him I wanted to sail the Atlantic, and he drew a sketch for me and I began to build."

Credit: Courtesy Kim Griffith

A viewer of ABC News' Los Angeles affiliate KABC witnessed the slow transformation over the years and posted Griffith's story on ABC7's Facebook page .

The boat - dubbed "The Mystic Rose" - is 64.4 feet long and 19 feet wide with a white finish.

Griffith said the electrical will finally be put in next week, then the Coast Guard, which has approved the vessel, will come for a second inspection to make sure it has been installed correctly.

"It's fantastic," Griffith said. "To see it in water, that's when I'll be really happy."

His wife of 60 years, Christine, said sh's proud of her husband's work and dedication.

"We supported him one-hundred-percent," she said. "When he told me what he wanted to do, I was a little skeptical. He's been after it for a while now and we reached this point. It's great because there have been so many tears of pains and hard work and taking time to build it correctly. He's going to charter the boat so he has to be very careful and very sure before we can run the boat."